My friend, Jason, wrote the following on his blog the other day, and it really struck me. Jason will be graduating high school next year, but he’s an old soul. He’s a thinker. When you meet folks like that, you just know it, instantly. Such was the case when I met Jason at the first peace demonstration. We don’t know each other well yet, but we’ve had a few conversations, and it’s always interesting to talk to him.
“I feel as if my life should be lived in black and white. I should be in my twenties, living in a loft apartment. I am none of these things. I should smoke a pipe or cigars, and drink. I would drink something dark, straight from the bottle. I should look tired all the time. I should wear a wrinkled stained old brimmed hat. I do not do any of these things. … I should feel discontent with my life. I should have a wonderful story about the girl I love or once loved or thought I loved or something, and how I lost her. And how it hurt, and still hurts, every day of my life.”
When I read this it struck me how much of this is still true for me today, even though I’m many years further down the road of life than Jason. Maybe this just speaks to my general lack of maturity, and lack of wisdom gained in those years. Or maybe it’s because this is the essential nature of a creative soul.
Creative sorts are always searching, thinking, longing. For what? We’re not sure. That changes practically daily, hourly. But we’re longing. Aching. Wanting.
What do we do about this? Sometimes we wallow in the wanting. It feels right. We’re big on going with our feelings. So, that’s what we do. Sometimes we try to address whatever we think is making us miserable today. It’s in those moments when we paint pictures and write letters and create businesses and dream. We always dream. Big dreams.
Sometimes, those dreams come true. And sometimes they fall apart, even as we try, desperately, to hold them together. They just dissolve and run through our fingers like fine sand.
Who among us hasn’t felt the pain of a lost love that hurts every day? Well, I guess some people haven’t. I know people who have only been in love once in their lives. But, the rest of us who didn’t get married to our high school sweethearts (would have been hard for me since I didn’t have one) can relate to that.
I’ve been in love more than once and it was love, not just like, not just lust, it was love – deep, abiding, soul-intensive, love. And then it was over. And since then it has hurt every day. At least every day so far. How long has it been since the first love? More years than I want to count. It was back in college, that first love, all those years ago…
Most of us, while in that state of raw pain, have drank straight from the bottle – dark or light or both – whatever was handy. Some also engage in other mind-altering substances to make it through. I suppose if you’ve lived your life so that you’ve never felt that longing, that aching, that you can’t relate to needing to dull it on occasion.
In some ways I envy that. In other ways I pity that.
Somehow, we all make it through, without nearly as much discontent as one would expect, aside from the longing for something we can’t identify that never goes away. But the raw pain of a lost love fades to a manageable level and eventually just becomes a part of who we are. We fold it into our selves. It’s part of our being. We don’t let it go because it’s part of what shapes us as humans. The human we are. The human we’re meant to be.
Eventually, the black and white becomes color, and we love again. In the meantime we’re thankful for the dreams lived. I’ve been lucky. Oh, so lucky. I’ve gotten to live a lot of my dreams, some of which I couldn’t even have named until I was in the midst of experiencing them. I’ve done things. I’ve met people. I’ve gone places. I’ve given into my whims. I’ve relished in the moment. I’ve laughed in the darkness and whispered in the morning light. But it all comes with a price.
The sweetness of a brown-eyed man holding me close while we faced into the wind blowing over us from the Mediterranean sea led to a bittersweet goodbye a few days later. But would I trade that moment of standing there on what I considered holy ground, his arms wrapped around me, to avoid that feeling of loss when we parted? No. It was worth it. No question about it. At least for me. I’m not sure he would say the same.
He was sweet. He thought he was in love. He wanted it to never end. But we both knew it would. For once I was the one more realistic about that. He wrote me long letters for many months after I came home, and each one had a bit of his soul poured out on the page. I always wrote him back, but mine were just letters. And he knew it and eventually stopped writing. Of course, then I missed it
I wonder if those days we spent together still hurt him. I hope not. If they do, I at least hope he thinks they were worth the pain.
I have these fantasies of seeing him again, meeting his wife and kids (surely he’s married by now), and just witnessing his life in the future. Nothing more. Just to see what it looks like from the other side as you carry those moments of pain with you into the future, less raw but still real.
Some of us need intensity. We need to feel everything. We go full force all the time, and never look back with regret. We feel the wind and the pain, and we appreciate them both.